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Drilon: We need 130k contact tracers, not trolls

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Thursday said the government needs to tap 130,000 contact tracers to beef up COVID-19 surveillance in the country, not trolls who would be funded using state coffers.

In a statement, Drilon said that under the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, P18 billion has been earmarked to fund cash-for-work programs that would enable hiring of data encoders and other necessary personnel for COVID-19 response.

"The new Bayanihan law made sure that the three T’s (test, trace and treatment) will have ample support and funding,” Drilon said.

"Huwag na po nating haluan ng pulitika ang contact tracing. We do not need to create a new network of 130,000 contact tracers. What we need is contact tracers, not an army of political supporters nor trolls," he added.

Drilon said the proposed P18-billion fund can be used for contact tracing but he urged the Department of Health (DOH) to mobilize existing networks of volunteers and available technology to achieve prudent use of government budget.

"The DOH should just mobilize around 400 thousand barangay health workers and parent-leaders from the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program to carry out contact tracing," he said.

"They can do contract tracing with ease and efficiency because of their familiarity with the place rather than hiring a new army of contact tracers," he added.

The proposed second Bayanihan law which he was referring to, however, was not tackled on third reading before the Senate session adjourned sine die on Thursday afternoon due to lack of certification as urgent from the Palace.

The DOH earlier said it needs 95,000 more contact tracers, on top of the existing 38,000, to meet the World Health Organization's recommended ratio of one tracer in every 800 people.

Drilon, along with Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senator Panfilo Lacson, recently said that the proposed P11.7 billion budget of the DOH for the hiring of contact tracers for three months must be diverted to other endeavors.

They pointed out that other local government units have been able to effectively implement contact tracing activities without spending much. — BM, GMA News